Kansas City Confidential: Special Edition
Kansas City Confidential, which established Phil Karlson as a top genre director, is a breathtaking account of a bank robbery and its climactic aftermath. The mastermind is a retired, bitter cop (Preston Foster), who blackmails three wanted crooks (Jack Elam, Lee Van Cleef, and Neville Brand) into joining in, with an innocent deliveryman, Joe Rolfe (John Payne), as the patsy.
The plot is consistently twisty as Rolfe is first arrested and tortured in jail and, upon his release, pursues the culprits to Mexico for a showdown. Karlson's style is fast and relentless, with slam-bang editing, and a documentary style that still works today.
This explosive film noir touches on serious subjects such as police brutality and the neglect of war veterans (Joe is a decorated hero who can't find work because of a minor criminal record). But the film's heart is 100% noir: corruption and double-cross rule the day, and a fist in the face comes before conversation.
The transfer is good, and even the dark scenes aren't grainy, but there are a few scratches and speckles. The focus is always sharp, and the Dolby Digital mono sound is clear and consistent. This special edition includes an interview with Coleen Gray, who plays the cop's daughter and Joe's love interest.